Sunday, February 28, 2021

Your 2020 Tax Return and the Stimulus Payments

 

Let’s talk about your 2020 personal tax return and the two stimulus payments that you (may have) received.

The first round of stimulus checks was up to $1,200 for each spouse and $500 for each qualifying child.

The second round was up to $600 for each spouse and qualifying child.

So, if you have two qualifying kids and qualified for the maximum, you would have received $5,800 ($3,400 plus $2,400) between the two rounds.

How do you not qualify for the maximum?

One way is easy: you had too much income.

The second way is nonintuitive: the child was over age 16. A qualifying child means a child under the age of 17. Seems odd to me to exclude a high school senior, but there it is.

Let’s talk about the first non-qualification: income.

Let’s use a married couple with two qualifying children as our example.

The income limit for marrieds is $150,000. Past that point the stimulus check goes away by a nickel on the dollar. The maximum for two spouses is $2,400, so we can calculate this as follows:

                      $2,400 divided by .05 = $ 48,000

                      $150,000 plus 48,000 = $198,000

All right, the stimulus for marrieds burns-out at $198,000, right?

Nope.

Why?

Because of the qualifying children.

Each of the kids adds another $10,000 to the phaseout range.

We have two kids. That means $20,000 added to the $198,000, totaling $218,000 before we burn-out of stimulus altogether.

Are we stilling phasing-out at a nickel on the dollar?

Let’s check.

           $218,000 – 150,000 = $68,000

           $3,400 divided by 68,000 equals $0.05.

Yep, nickel on the dollar.

You received the first stimulus check in April, 2020. Remember that tax returns were automatically extended until July 15, 2020 because of COVID. The odds were extremely good that the IRS was not basing its calculations on your 2019 return, because your 2019 return had not been prepared, much less filed. For most of us, the IRS was looking at our 2018 tax return.

Let’s continue.

You received your second stimulus check very late in December, 2020 or (more likely) January, 2021 – but the income phaseout range was the same.

What did change was the tax year the IRS was looking at. By December, 2020 you would have filed your 2019 tax return (let’s skip paper filings that may not have been processed by then, or we are going to drive ourselves crazy).

If your income went up from 2018 to 2019, you would have climbed the phaseout range. You might have received a first stimulus check, for example, but not qualified for a second one. It could have gone the other way, of course, if your income went down in 2019. 

Now your 2020 tax return lands on my desk and we need to settle-up on the stimulus.

How do we settle-up?

We run through the income phaseout range … again.

Using your 2020 tax return this time.

Did you notice we are doing the calculation three times using income from three different tax years?

Yep, it’s a pain.

Mind you, if you have modest income, I know that you received the maximum stimulus.

Conversely, if you made bank, I know that you received no stimulus.

Fall in between – or have wildly varying income – and I you need to tell me the amount of your stimulus checks.

Let’s go through a quick example, using our married couple with two qualifying children.

Their 2018 adjusted gross income was 201,000.

Here is the first stimulus:

phaseout start

150,000.00

phaseout end

198,000.00

add: 2 children

20,000.00

218,000.00

68,000.00

2018 AGI

201,000.00

51,000.00

First stimulus

2,400.00

1,000.00

3,400.00

times

51,000.00

 =

2,550.00

 

68,000.00

(2,550.00)

850.00

They would have received $850.

Their 2019 adjusted gross income was $320,000.

Way over the income limit. There was no second stimulus.

Their 2020 tax return lands on my desk. Their adjusted gross income is $104,000.

Way below the income limit. Full stimulus.

Two qualifying kids. The maximum over two rounds of stimulus would be $3,400 plus $2,400 = $5,800.

They already received $850 per above.

That means a $4,950 credit on their 2020 individual tax return. I look like a hero.

But why? After all, their 2019 income was over $300 grand – way above the range for receiving any stimulus.

The quirky thing is that the stimulus is based on one’s 2020 tax return. Congress however wanted the money out as fast as possible. The stimulus had an income test, though, so the first option was to do the calculation on one’s 2019 tax return. When that option proved unworkable, the second option was to use 2018. It was messy but quick, and one would settle-up when filing the 2020 tax return.

Congress realized that settling-up could mean repaying some of the stimulus money. Since that somewhat negated the purpose of a stimulus, Congress decided that the gate would only swing one way. If one did not receive enough stimulus, then one could claim the shortfall on the 2020 return. If one was overpaid, well … one got to keep the money. 

It was a win:win.

Not so much for the accountant, though.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

What Does It Mean To File A Return?

 

The IRS generally has three years to examine a return and assess additional taxes after it has been filed.

This can put pressure on whether what was filed is a “return.”

I am looking at a case involving this issue.

Mr Quezada (Q) ran a stonemasonry business. He had a number of people working for him over the years. Like many a contractor, he treated these individuals as subcontractors and not employees.

OK.

He filed Form 1099s.

OK.

Most of these 1099s did not include social security numbers.

Oh oh.

This is a problem. If a payor requests a social security number and an individual refuses to provide it, the tax Code requires the payor to withhold “backup withholding.” The same applies if an individual provides a bogus social security number.

Say that you are supposed to pay someone $1,000 for stone masonry work, but they refuse to provide a social security number.

COMMENT: Let’s be honest: we know what is going on here.

You are required to withhold 24% and send it to the IRS. You should pay the person $860 and send $240 to the IRS.

QUESTION: what are the odds that anyone will ever claim the $240?

FURTHER QUESTION: And how could one, since there is no social security number associated with the $240?

Mr Q was supposed to file the following forms with the IRS:

·      Form 1099

·      Form 1096 (the summary of the 1099s)

·      Form 945 (to remit the $240 in our example)

He filed the first two. He did not file the third as he did not withhold.

Mr Q filed for bankruptcy in 2016. The creditors had a chance to file their claims.

In the spirit of bayoneting the dead, the IRS wanted backup withholding taxes from 2005 onward.

It filed its claim – for over $1.2 million.

QUESTION: how could 2005 (or 2006? or 2007?) still be an open tax year?

The IRS gave its argument:

1.    The liability for backup withholding is reported on Form 945.

2.    Mr Q never filed Form 945.

3.    The statute of limitations never started because Mr Q never filed the return.

The IRS was alluding to the Lane-Wells case.

In Lane-Wells the taxpayer filed one type of corporate tax return rather than another, mostly because it thought that it was the first type and not the other. The distinction meant money to the IRS.

The Supreme Court agreed with the IRS.

The IRS likes to consider Lane-Wells as its trump card in case one does not file a return, unintentionally leaves out a schedule or files the wrong form altogether. The courts have fortunately pushed back on this position.

Mr Q had a problem. He had not filed Form 945. Then again, from his perspective there was no Form 945 to file. He was between a rock and a hard spot.

The Appeals Court hearing Mr Q’s case realized the same thing.

The Court reasoned that the issue was not whether Mr Q filed the “magic” form. Rather, it was whether Mr Q filed a return that:

·      Showed the liability for tax, and

·      Allowed calculation of the amount of tax

Here is the Court:

The IRS could determine that Q[uezada] was liable for backup-withholding taxes by looking at the face of his Forms 1099; if a particular form lacked a TIN, then Q[uezada] was liable for backup withholding taxes applied to the entire amount …”

There is the first test.

For each subcontractor who failed to supply a TIN, the IRS could determine the amount that Q[uezada] should have backup withheld by multiplying the statutory flat rate for backup withholding by the amount Q[uezada] paid the subcontractor.”

There is the second test.

The Court decided that Q had filed returns sufficient to give the IRS a heads-up as to the liability and its amount. The IRS could but did not follow up. Why not? Who knows, but the IRS was time-barred by the statute of limitations.

Our case this time was Quezada v IRS, No 19-51000 (5th Cir. 2020).

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Abandoning A Partnership Interest

I suspect that most taxpayers know that there is a difference between long-term capital gains and ordinary income. Long-term capital gains receive a lower tax rate, incentivizing one to prefer long-terms gains, if at all possible.

Capital losses are not as useful. Capital losses offset capital gains, whether short-term or long-term. If one has net capital losses left over, then one can claim up to $3,000 of such losses to offset non-capital gain income (think your W-2).

That $3,000 number has not changed since I was in school.

And there is an example of a back-door tax increase. Congress has imposed an effective tax increase by not pegging the $3,000 to (at least) the rate of inflation for the last how-many decades. It is the same thing they have done with the threshold amount for the net investment income or the additional Medicare tax. It is an easy way to raise taxes without publicly raising taxes.

I am looking at a case where two brothers owned Edwin Watts Golf. Most of the stores were located on real estate also owned by the brothers, so the brothers owned two things: a golf supply business and the real estate it was housed in.


In 2003 a private equity firm (Wellspring) offered the brothers $93 million for the business. The brothers took the money (so would I), kept the real estate and agreed to certain terms, such as Wellspring having control over any sale of the business. The brothers also received a small partnership position with Wellspring.

Why did they keep the real estate? Because the golf businesses were paying rent, meaning that even more money went their way.

The day eventually came when Wellspring wanted out; that is what private equity does, after all. It was looking at two offers: one was with Dick’s Sporting Goods and the other with Sun Capital.  Dick’s Sporting already had its own stores and would have no need for the existing golf shop locations. The brothers realized that would be catastrophic for the easy-peasy rental income that was coming in, so they threw their weight behind the offer by Sun Capital.

Now, one does not own a private equity firm by being a dummy, so Wellspring wanted something in return for choosing Sun Capital over Dick’s Sporting.

Fine, said the brothers: you can keep our share of the sales proceeds.

The brothers did not run the proposed transaction past their tax advisor. This was unfortunate, as there was a tax trap waiting to spring.  

Generally speaking, the sale or exchange of a partnership interest results in capital gain or loss. The partners received no cash from the sale. Assuming they had basis (that is, money invested) in the partnership, the sale or exchange would have resulted in a capital loss.

Granted, one can use capital losses against capital gains, but that means one needs capital gains.   What if you do not have enough gains? Any gains? We then get back to an obsolete $3,000 per year allowance. Have a big enough loss and one would need the lifespan of a Tolkien elf to use-up the loss.

The brothers’ accountant found out what happened during tax season and well after the fact. He too knew the issue with capital losses. He played a card, in truth the only card he had. Could what happened be reinterpreted as the abandonment of a partnership interest?

There is something you don’t see every day.

Let’s talk about it.

This talk gets us into Code sections, as the reasoning is that one does not have a “sale or exchange” of a partnership interest if one abandons the interest. This gets the tax nerd away from the capital gain/loss requirement of Section 741 and into the more temperate climes of Section 165. One would plan the transaction to get to a more favorable Code section (165) and avoid a less favorable one (741). 

There are hurdles here, though. The first two are generally not a problem, but the third can be brutal.

The first two are as follows:

(1) The taxpayer must show an intent to abandon the interest; and

(2)  The taxpayer must show an affirmative act of abandonment.

This is not particularly hard to do, methinks. I would send a letter to the tax matters or general partner indicating my intent to abandon the interest, and then I would send (to all partners, if possible) a letter that I have in fact abandoned my interest and relinquished all rights and benefits thereunder. This assumes there is no partners’ meeting. If there was a meeting, I would do it there. Heck, I might do both to avoid all doubt.

What is the third hurdle?

There can be no “consideration” on the way out.

Consideration in tax means more than just receiving money. It also includes someone assuming debt you were previously responsible for.

The rule-of-thumb in a general partnership is that the partners are responsible for their allocable share of partnership debt. This is a problem, especially if one is not interested in being liable for any share of any debt. This is how we got to limited partnerships, where the general partner is responsible for the debts and the limited partners are not.

Extrapolating the above, a general partner in a general partnership is going to have issues abandoning a partnership interest if the partnership has debt. The partnership would have to pay-off that debt, refinance the debt from recourse to nonrecourse, or perhaps a partner or group of partners could assume the debt, excluding the partner who wants to abandon.

Yea, the planning can be messy for a general partnership.

It would be less messy for a limited partner in a limited partnership.

Then we have the limited liability companies. (LLCs). Those bad boys have a splash of general partnership, a sprinkling of limited partnership, and they can result in a stew of both rules.

The third plank to the abandonment of a partnership interest can be formidable, depending on how the entity is organized and how the debts are structured. If a partner wants an abandonment, it is more likely than not that pieces on the board have to be moved in order to get there.   

The brothers’ accountant however had no chance to move pieces before Wellspring sold Edwin Watts Golf. He held his breath and prepared tax returns showing the brothers as abandoning their partnership interests. This gave them ordinary losses, meaning that the losses were immediately useful on their tax returns.

The IRS caught it and said “no way.”

There were multiple chapters in the telling of this story, but in the end the Court decided for the IRS.

Why?

Because the brothers had the option of structuring the transaction to obtain the tax result they desired. If they wanted an abandonment, then they should have taken the steps necessary for an abandonment. They did not. There is a long-standing doctrine in the Code that a taxpayer is allowed to structure a transaction anyway he/she wishes, but once structured the taxpayer has to live with the consequences. This doctrine is not tolerant of taxpayer do-overs.

The brothers had a capital and not an ordinary loss. They were limited to capital gains plus $3 grand per year. Yay.

Our case this time for the home gamers was Watts, T.C. Memo 2017-114.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

How To Forfeit an IRS Collection Due Process Hearing


I am looking at a Tax Court case.

I presume it was an act of desperation by the taxpayer, otherwise it makes no sense.

Let’s say that you get yourself into a quarter million dollars of tax debt.

You know the Collection bus is coming. You probably should get ahead of it, but it escapes your attention.

You receive IRS notice LT-11.

You are in the Collections sequence.

Let’s talk about the general order of tax collection notices.

   CP-14      Balance Due

   CP-501    Reminder Notice 

   CP-503    Reminder Notice

   CP-504    Notice of Intent to Levy

   LT-11       Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your 

                   Right to a Hearing

Some observations:

First, you are deep into the machinery at this point. There were at least 4 notices sent to you before you received this one.

Second, a levy means that someone is going to take your stuff. This is different from a lien. The IRS can put a lien on your house, as an example. The lien will sit there, damaging your credit along the way, but it will not spring to action until you sell the house. A levy is not so nice. The IRS can drain your bank account with a bank levy, or it can divert (some of) your paycheck with a wage levy.

Third, you have taxpayer rights in response to receiving a LT-11, but there is a time limit. If you respond within 30 days you have full rights; respond after 30 days and you have lesser rights.  Granted, depending on the situation, it may be that both the 30 and 30-plus varieties will have all the rights you need.

You may wonder what the difference is between the CP-504 Notice of Intent to Levy and the LT-11 Notice of Intent to Levy. It is confusing. I wish the IRS used different wording on these notices, but it is what it is.

The difference is the type of Collections rights the taxpayer has. Both the CP-504 and LT-11 give you rights, but the rights under the LT-11 are more expansive.

An appeal under a CP-504 is referred to as Collection Appeal Program (CAP). An appeal under a LT-11 is referred to as Collection Due Process (CDP). There are differences between the two, and a huge difference is that the CAP is non-appealable whereas the CDP is.

If you want the safety net of a possible appeal, you are waiting until the LT-11.

BTW do not assume that all CPAs know this notice sequence and its significance. All CPAs have had some tax education, but not all CPAs practice tax or – more importantly – practice tax procedure to any meaningful extent. Tax procedure is rarely taught in school, and – to a great extent – it is learned through mentoring and practice.  

Our protagonist (Ramey) had several businesses, and he used the same address for all of them. There were other businesses at this address, so I presume we are talking about a shared office space facility. Anyway, the IRS sent the LT-11 notice, return receipt requested. The notice was delivered and someone signed the receipt, but that someone was not Ramey’s employee.

At this point, I am thinking: no big deal.

There is a 30-day time limit if one wants to request a CDP. The 30 days lapsed.

Oh, oh.

Mind you, there is a fallback option if one exceeds 30 days, but the downside is that any decision under the fallback is non-appealable.

Ramey wanted the option to appeal.

He figured he had a card left to play.

The IRS notice has to meet several requirements under Section 6330 before the IRS can actually levy. The notice has to be:

(1)  Given in person;

(2)  Left at the dwelling or usual place of business; or

(3)  Sent by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to such person’s last known address.

Ramey argued that he had not signed for the mail, and the person who did sign did not have authority to sign on his behalf.

Seems like weak tea.

The Court agreed:

Mr. Ramey’s chief complaint appears to be that multiple businesses use that address, so mail might be accepted by the wrong person. But, even if that is so, Mr Ramey does not explain how the IRS could have taken this fact into account. Mr Ramey is free to organize his business affairs as he sees appropriate, including by choosing to share a business address with other businesses. But, having made that choice, and having provided the IRS an address shared by multiple businesses, he cannot properly complain when the IRS uses that very address to reach him.”

Ramey blew the 30- day window. He failed to protect his right to appeal to the Tax Court.

The Court correctly pointed out that Ramey still had options. He could, for example, pay the underlying tax, request a refund, and appeal the denial of that refund request in District Court, for example.

So why the fuss about the 30 days?

One does not have to pay the tax before being allowed to file in Tax Court. One however does have to pay the tax in order to file with a District Court or the Court of Federal Claims.

Ramey owed a quarter of a million dollars.

Our case for the home-gamers was Ramey v Commissioner 156 T.C. No. 1.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Can You Tell When You Are Being Audited?

 I am looking at a Tax Court pro se decision.

Pro se means that the taxpayer represents himself or herself.

Technically, that is explanation insufficient. I, for example, could represent someone in Tax Court and it would still be considered to be pro se.

I tend to shudder at pro se cases, because too often it is a case of someone not knowing what they don’t know. And – once you are that far into the tax system – you had better be up-to-speed with tax law as well as tax procedure. Either can trip you up.

There is a cancer surgeon who inherited an IRA in 2013. He took distributions in both 2014 and 2015 – distributions totaling over $508 thousand - but he researched and came to the conclusion that the distributions were not income.

COMMENT:  How did he get there? The first thing that comes to mind is that these were Roth IRAs, but that was not the case. He argued instead that the IRAs included nondeductible contributions, and those nondeductible amounts were not taxable income coming out.

The reference here is to nondeductible IRAs, the cousin to Roth IRAs. These bad boys would be almost extinct except for their use in backdoor Roth conversions. Still, the doctor was wrong: it is EXTREMELY unlikely that a nondeductible IRA would be fully nontaxable. The reason is that only the contributions are nontaxable; any earnings on the contribution would be taxable. I suppose that one could have a completely nontaxable distribution, but that would mean the nondeductible IRA had no - none, nada, zippo - earnings over its existence. That would be among the worst investments ever.

The IRS computerized matching program kicked-in, as the IRA distributions would have triggered issuance of a 1099. The IRS caught 2014. The doctor disagreed he had income. The IRS machinery ground-on and resulted in the issuance of a 90-day letter (also known as a Statutory Notice of Deficiency) for 2014. The purpose of the SNOD is to reduce a proposed tax assessment to an actual assessment, and it is nothing to snicker about. The doctor had the option to appeal to the Tax Court, which he did.

Practice can be described as doing what is not taught in school, so the story took an unusual twist. The doctor was contacted by a revenue agent for a real and actual audit of his 2014 tax return. The agent however was looking at issues other than the IRA, and the doctor did not mention that the IRS Automated Under Reporting unit was looking at 2014. The agent continued blithely on, not knowing about the AUR and eventually expanding his audit to 2015.

QUESTION: Why didn’t the doctor tell the agent about AUR? I would have tried to consolidate the exams myself.

The doctor was dealing with AUR over matching. They wanted money for 2014.

The doctor was also dealing with a living, breathing agent about 2014. The agent wanted money, but that money was from areas other than the IRA.

The doctor took both SNODs to Tax Court.

He argument was straightforward – he invoked the tax equivalent of double jeopardy: Section 7605(b):

         (b) Restrictions on examination of taxpayer

No taxpayer shall be subjected to unnecessary examination or investigations, and only one inspection of a taxpayer’s books of account shall be made for each taxable year unless the taxpayer requests otherwise or unless the Secretary, after investigation, notifies the taxpayer in writing that an additional inspection is necessary.

If there was double jeopardy, the doctor clearly wanted the revenue agent’s proposed assessment, as it did not include the IRA.

Did the doctor have an argument?

This Code section has an interesting history. It goes back to the 1920s, at a time when only the wealthy were subject to income tax and there were no computers, 1099s and what-not. Matching was not even a fevered dream. What did exist, however, was the potential for human abuse and repetitive examinations to beat someone into submission. The progenitor of our Section 7605(b) came into existence as an early version of taxpayer protection and rights.

What the Tax Court focused on was whether there were two “examination(s) or investigations.” If the answer was yes, the Court would have to continue to the next question: was the additional examination “unnecessary?”

The Court did not need to continue to the second question, as technically there were not two examinations. You see, the matching program is driven by 1099s and other reporting forms. The AUR unit is not “auditing” in the traditional sense; it is instead trying to reconcile what a taxpayer reported to what an independent party reported.  

Additionally, the only thing AUR is looking at is income.  AUR is not concerned with deductions. Its review does not rise to the level of an examination as AUR is intentionally ignoring all the deductions on one’s return.

But I get it: it does not feel that way to the person interacting with the AUR unit. And there definitely is no real-world difference when AUR wants additional money from you.

But there is a technical difference.  

The doctor saw two examinations. I suspect most people would agree. However, the doctor technically had one examination. He was not in double jeopardy. Section 7605(b) did not apply.

Our case this time was Richard Essner v Commissioner, TC Memo 2020-23.


Sunday, January 10, 2021

IRS Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED)

 I consider it odd.

I have two files in my office waiting on the collection statute of limitations to expire.

It is not a situation I often see.

Audits, penalty abatements, payment plans, offers and innocent spouse requests are more common.

Let’s talk about the running of the collection statute of limitations.

COMMENT: I do not consider this to be valid tax planning, and I am quite reluctant to represent someone who starts out by intending to do the run. That said, sometimes unfortunate things happen. We will discuss the topic in the spirit of the latter.

Let’s set up the two statutes of limitations:

(1) The first is the statute on assessment. This is the familiar 3-year rule: the IRS has 3 years to audit and the taxpayer has 3 years to amend.

COMMENT: I do not want to include the word “generally” every time, as it will get old. Please consider the modifier “generally” as unspoken but intended.

(2)  The second is the statute on collections. This period is 10 years.

We might conversationally say that the period can therefore go 13 years. That would be technically incorrect, as there would be two periods running concurrently. Let’s consider the following example:

·      You filed your individual tax return on April 15, 2020. You owed $1,000 above and beyond your withholdings and estimates.

·      The IRS audited you on September 20, 2022. You owed another $4,000.

·      You have two periods going:

o  The $1,000 ends on April 15, 2030 (2020 + 10 years).

o  The $4,000 ends on September 20, 2032 (2022 + 10 years).

Alright, so we have 10 years. The expiration of this period is referred to as the “Collection Statute Expiration Date” or “CSED”.

When does it start?

Generally (sorry) when you file the return. Say you extend and file the return on August 15. Does the period start on August 15?

No.

The period starts when the IRS records the return.

Huh?

It is possible that it might be the same date. It is more possible that it will be a few days after you filed. A key point is that the IRS date trumps your date.

How would you find this out?

Request a transcript from the IRS. Look for the following code and date:

                  Code          Explanation

                    150           Tax return filed

Start your 10 years.

BTW if you file your return before April 15, the period starts on April 15, not the date you filed. This is a special rule.

Can the 10 years be interrupted or extended?

Oh yes. Welcome to tax procedure.

The fancy 50-cent word is “toll,” as in “tolling” the statute. The 10-year period is suspended while certain things are going on. What is going on is that you are probably interacting with the IRS.

OBSERVATION: So, if you file your return and never interact with the IRS – I said interact, not ignore – the statute will (generally – remember!) run its 10 years.

How can you toll the statute?

Here are some common ways:

(1)  Ask for an installment payment plan

Do this and the statute is tolled while the IRS is considering your request.

(2)  Get turned down for an installment payment plan

                  Add 30 days to (1) (plus Appeals, if you go there).

(3)  Blow (that is, prematurely end) an installment payment plan

Add another 30 days to (1) (plus Appeals, if you go there).

(4)  Submit an offer in compromise

The statute is tolled while the IRS is considering your request, plus 30 days.

(5)  Military service in a combat zone

The statute is tolled while in the combat zone, plus 180 days.

(6)  File for bankruptcy

The statute is tolled from the date the petition is filed until the date of discharge, plus 6 months.

(7)  Request innocent spouse status

The statute is tolled from the date the petition is filed until the expiration of the 90-day letter to petition the Tax Court. If one does petition the Court, then the toll continues until the final Court decision, plus 60 days.

(8)  Request a Collections Due Process hearing

The statute is tolled from the date the petition is filed until the hearing date.

(9)  Request assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate

The statute is tolled while the case is being worked by the Taxpayer Advocate’s office.

Unfortunately, I have been leaning on CDP hearings quite a bit in recent years, meaning that I am also extending my client’s CSED. I have one in my office as I write this, for example. I have lost hope that standard IRS procedure will resolve the matter, not to mention that IRS systems are operating sub-optimally during COVID. I am waiting for the procedural trigger (the “Final Notice. Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Rights to a Hearing”) allowing the appeal. I am not concerned about the CSED for this client, so the toll is insignificant.

There are advanced rules, of course. An example would be overlapping tolling periods. We are not going there in this post.

Let’s take an example of a toll.

You file your return on April 15, 2015. You request a payment plan on September 5, 2015. The IRS grants it on October 10, 2015. Somethings goes wobbly and the IRS terminates the plan. You request a Collection Due Process hearing on June 18, 2019. The hearing is resolved on November 25, 2019.

Let’s assume the IRS posting date is April 15, 2015.

Ten years is April 15, 2025.

It took 36 days to approve the payment plan.

The plan termination automatically adds 30 days.

The CDP took 161 days.

What do you have?

April 15, 2025 … plus 36 days is May 21, 2025.

Plus 30 days is June 20, 2025.

Plus 161 days is November 28, 2025.

BTW there are situations where one might extend the CSED separate and apart from the toll. Again, we are not going there in this post.

Advice from a practitioner: do not cut this razor sharp, especially if there are a lot of procedural transactions on the transcript. Some tax practitioners will routinely add 4 or 5 weeks to their calculation, for example. I add 30 days simply for requesting an installment payment plan, even though the toll is not required by the Internal Revenue Manual.  I have seen the IRS swoop-in when there are 6 months or so of CSED remaining, but not when there are 30 days.